Conero is no doubt one of the Adriatic Sea’s most beautiful rivieras, with crystal clear uncontaminated waters, white beaches, and lush vegetation. So it’s no surprise that in 2020 this stretch of coast of Italy’s Marche region was the only Italian destination included in the “Top Regions – Best in Travel” by Lonely Planet, the most famous tourist guide in the world, finishing second in the world ranking!
As proof of the beauty of its coast and excellence of its waters, here are 10 beaches that are well worth visiting by boat.
The starting point is Marina Dorcia, Ancona’s yacht harbour. From here you can leave the gulf heading south to discover the amazing beauty of this riviera.
From the boat, Ancona’s skyline is quite unique: the Cathedral of Saint Cyriacus, at the top of Guasco Hill, will be the first landmark you spot,
immediately followed by the white and circular Passetto monument, a memorial to the victims of the First World War.
The monument is accessible via two large stairways and overlooks the sea offering stunning views. It is also the perfect spot to watch the sun rise and set in the sea, courtesy of the City’s unique position.
1 – GROTTE DEL PASSETTO (PASSETTO CAVES)
The first stop we recommend is just 3 miles from Marina Dorica.
Passetto caves were excavated in the 20th century by fishermen who used them to moor their boats safely and enjoy the sea.
Passed down by the owners from generation to generation, today they have become proper summer retreats.
The beach below the caves is made of smooth rocks parallel to the coast and is frequented by the owners of the caves as well as local residents.
2 – LA SCALACCIA (THE RUGGED STEPS)
Just 4.8 miles from the Marina, Scalaccia beach is a remote bay that can be reached either by boat or walking down the “rugged steps” that give the beach its name. The trail starts from Ancona’s Pietralacroce neighbourhood and reaches this bay characterised by crystal clear water and white rocks, typical of the Conero area. A little corner of paradise. Well worth a visit.
3 – SPIAGGIA DEL TRAVE (THE PLANK BEACH)
Continuing down the coast you reach Spiaggia del Trave, 6.5 miles from Marina Dorica.
This beach is named after the unique rock – 5 metres wide and 1 km long – that emerges from the water (“trave” is Italian for “plank”).
The rock, which looks more like a wall, used to be completely above water. However, overtime the sea eroded the most friable parts of the rock and now it looks like a natural pier, just above the waterline. A unique and beautiful sight.
Due to the risk of rock sliding, some parts of the beach are not accessible, however from a boat the view is amazing and it’s a great place for a swim.
4 – Mezzavalle
Further down the coast, 7 miles from the Marina, you’ll find Mezzavalle beach.
Wild and unspoiled, this bay certainly deserves a mention. Its pearl of a beach is reachable by foot along a trail that comes down the mountain side.
Leaving the boat, you can reach the only restaurant on this beautiful beach and enjoy fresh fish while admiring the view and the colours of the sea.
When you arrive on the beach, you may notice people completely covered in mud. If you are wondering what they are doing, you should know that the special characteristics of the mountain’s soil, which contains clay, are a great opportunity for a mud body mask.
5 – PORTONOVO BAY
Continuing further along the coast, 7.5 miles from the Marina, you’ll find Portonovo Bay, where Conero’s maquis shrubland stretches almost to the sea, hence the name “Green Bay”, as some like to call it.
This stretch of coast is particularly popular with tourists who appreciate the cuisine of its renowned restaurants, famous for Portonovo’s “moscoli”, a local speciality.
“Moscoli” are wild mussels that are fished rather than cultivated.
The perfect place to stop and reach the shore, via the boat lane, to spend a few hours in this beautiful corner of the world.
The watchtower, Torre di Bosis, is one of the most distinguished buildings in Portonovo Bay.
6 – SPIAGGIA DELLA VELA (THE SAIL BEACH)
Past Portonovo Bay, 8.2 miles south of Marina Dorica, you’ll reach the beach Spiaggia della Vela.
This stretch of sand takes its name from the characteristic shape of the rock emerging from the sea (“vela” in Italian means “sail”).
Here you will be able to reach the shore via La Capannina boat lane to spend a few hours on this fantastic beach and enjoy the excellent fish dishes served at the best restaurants in Portonovo.
Visit the church of Santa Maria, a distinguished building that doesn’t go unnoticed. The extraordinary beauty of this church is enhanced by its amazing surroundings: its white walls stand out against the green maquis shrubland that grows all around it and against the blue of the sea.
7 – BEACHES OF FORNI AND GABBIANI
Moving further south, 9.5 miles from the Marina, you reach the most spectacular spot of the Conero Riviera, the beaches of Forni and Gabbiani.
These two small secluded bays can be reached only by boat. There are no facilities, just unspoilt nature, a beautiful sea with crystal clear water, and fine white pebbles perfectly smoothed by the sea.
8 – SPIAGGIA DELLE DUE SORELLE (THE BEACH OF THE TWO SISTERS)
Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle is just half a mile further down the coast.
It’s hard to find the right words to describe this small bay, no doubt the most beautiful of the entire Conero Riviera.
It can be reached only by boat because the only passage that leads to the beach, know as Passo del Lupo (which translates as passage of the wolf), has been closed by local authorities.
The beach is named after the twin rocks that emerge from the water and have inspired many local legends. The most famous involves a mermaid who used to first lure sailors with her songs, then capture and torture them with the help of a sea demon. One day, to punish its cruelty the malevolent spirit was turned to stone and split into two white rocks that look like sisters.
The legends and the unique beauty of this beach make it a place worth visiting.
SPIAGGIA DEI SASSI NERI AND DI SAN MICHELE
The next beaches (11 miles south of Marina Dorica) are Spiaggia dei Sassi Neri and San Michele.
This part of the coast is reachable on foot along a number of trails that cut through Mount Conero’s lush vegetation.
The beach has free and equipped areas, to suit everyone. The shore can be reached via the boat lane leading to San Michele beach, where you’ll find a number of facilities.
10 – URBANI BEACH
The tour ends in Sirolo, 11.5 miles south of the Marina. The beautiful Urbani Beach is shaped as a crescent.
The beach has a number of private caves and a pier, a popular place to sunbathe during the summer.
This stretch of coast is connected to the Spiaggia dei Sassi Neri and San Michele and can be reached by car. The car park is just above the beach.
This unique tour, as good as they get on any stretch of coast, is really worth taking.
Marina Dorica is the perfect harbour with plenty of services and lots to see and enjoy right in the heart of the Adriatic coast, close to the Riviera del Conero, opposite the Croatian coast.
Marina Dorica has been awarded the Blue Flag since 2011 and was selected as one of Italy’s “TOP 30 MARINAS IN 2012” as one of the best and most appreciated safe mooring ports on the Italian coast for its outstanding facilities and good quality/price ratio.